Wayne 8, Upper Darby 3

Mathes takes starch out of Blue Sox, Wayne a win away

By Matt Smith

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MARPLE » Cam Mathes did what any good ace does in a pivotal game. He pitched a beauty.

One day after Johnny Gonzalez tossed yet another complete game for Upper Darby, Mathes came out Thursday and, figuratively speaking, told everyone to “hold my beer.”

The Villanova grad fired six shutout innings, allowing one single that barely left the infield dirt, and struck out five to help Wayne roll to an 8-3 victory in Game 3 of the Delco League championship series. Wayne and Upper Darby return to Cardinal O’Hara Friday to play Game 4 of the best-of-5 series. Leading the series 2-1, Wayne is one win away from its 18th league title.

Thursday was all about Mathes, the All-Delco star and pride of Marple Newtown High, who needed only 64 pitches to get through six innings. He allowed two baserunners and retired the first 12 hitters he faced.

Wayne held an 8-0 lead after 6 ½ innings, safe enough for manager Brian Fili to give Mathes the rest of the night off. Mathes pitched an inning in Game 1, too, and if the series goes to a fifth and deciding game he could give Wayne some length out of the bullpen.

“The plan is for Sunday, if possible,” Mathes said. “I’ll tell you, though, it’s a longshot that my arm’s going to be feeling good enough. We’ll see. We had good enough run support tonight that we were able to do that and get Tommy in there to pitch the seventh.”

Tommy Bradley went from catching Mathes for six innings to taking the hill in the seventh. He retired the first two batters he faced, but the defending champion Blue Sox managed to work four walks and scored three runs with two outs to make things a little interesting at the end.

“When (Mathes) is pitching like that…it’s kind of like giving me the day off, to say the least,” said Bradley, a Bonner-Prendergast grad. “He was huge. He went out there and got the job done.”

Wayne’s offense provided Mathes with plenty of run support just 24 hours after it was held to one run on three hits. A four-spot in the first inning against UD starter Frank Parrotti helped matters.

“That certainly gives you a lot more confidence on the mound knowing your guys are scoring and making plays behind you,” Mathes said. “After Jake (Siani) made that diving catch in center in the first inning, I knew they were going to have my back the whole time and give me as much support as I needed. And they came up and got some big hits all game.”

Aiding Wayne’s quick start was the sun. With the bases loaded Bradley lofted a lazy fly ball to right field that dropped in for a hit. Right fielder Vince Gasbarro lost sight of a ball, enabling all three runners to score. Bradley stood at second base with a gift threerun double. It was the first of three knocks for Bradley, who went 3-for-3 with five ribbies on the night. Sean Mohollen also ripped an RBI single in the top of the first.

“We all struggled with the bats (Wednesday), but today was a new day,” Bradley said. “I’m tough on myself. I came up with two RBI chances (Wednesday) and didn’t come through. I just reset and refocused. … I went up there and really got the job done.”

Slugging first baseman Steven Wells also had a nice day at the dish, going 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored and an RBI. He led off the third with a double and eventually scored on a single by Matt Briner to make it 5-0. Bradley added RBI knocks in the third and seventh innings. Everyone in Wayne’s lineup, including sub Mike Valente, reached base at least once against a cavalcade of Upper Darby hurlers. Five relievers came in after Parrotti was lifted with the bases loaded and nobody out in the third. Wayne produced 10 hits on the night.

Mathes had a perfect game brewing until Max Anastasio worked a leadoff walk in the fifth. Joey Suppa’s duck snort to second base for an infield hit spoiled the no-hitter with one out in the fifth. Mathes has been a stabilizing force for Wayne. He left the club last year to play in a summer league, but is glad to be back for the winningest franchise in Delco League history. This past spring, in his grad year at Villanova, the big righthander pitched to a 3.48 ERA in 20.2 innings with 23 strikeouts.

Mathes and the rest of Wayne hope not to see him pitch again in 2022. With the chance to clinch Friday night, West Chester University product Joe Peluso will take the ball in Game 4. Don’t be surprised if Peluso ends up opposing Gonzalez, who is the author of three straight complete games. The 49-year-old said before Thursday’s game that he woke up in the morning feeling great after his gutsy performance Wednesday. Gonzalez is the reigning league championship series MVP.

“He’s not human. He was made in a lab,” Bradley joked. “The thing that beats you up the most is he’ll go out there, pitch seven innings, make you look bad and then after the game he’s chatting with you and he’s the nicest guy in the world. He obviously got the upper hand (Wednesday) and if he steps out there (Friday) we definitely won’t be surprised.”